Late June 2020 saw a resurgence of coronavirus cases across the US, predominantly in states which reopened too quickly, or too recklessly, and where social distancing guidelines had not been strictly adhered to. Too early to be considered the vaunted “second wave” of the pandemic, this surge is still part of the initial infectious outbreak. As of June 26, conditions were so bad in Harris County, Texas, home of Houston, that Judge Lina Hidalgo, the county’s Chief Executive, raised the threat level locally to red once more, issuing a second “stay-at-home” order when Texas Medical Center reported 100% of its ICU beds were filled. Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning elective surgery in the county and three others most at risk.
According to NBC News figures, Texas has seen an 83% increase in COVID-19 cases since the prior week. Other emerging hot spots include Georgia (71% increase), Arizona (61%), Oklahoma (50%) and California (35%). With total reported US infections now exceeding 2.5 million, and more than 127,000 deaths, the US remains the world leader in coronavirus cases, almost six months after the virus was first identified. At less than 5% of the world population, the US accounts for roughly a quarter of its infections and fatalities, largely due to delayed and inadequate response by its government. There is still no national program for testing, contact tracing or quarantine, and the same week alarms were sounding on COVID’s resurgence, the Trump administration announced it was pulling funding for testing in key hot spots.